By Jackie Gonzalez Staff Writer
Freshman setter, Mina Andjelkovic and the Long Beach State Women’s Volleyball team had a successful weekend at the Walter Pyramid as they welcomed UC Riverside on Nov 10 and Cal State Fullerton, on Nov 11.
After cruising through the first set 25–18, the Beach was challenged to a five-set match by the Highlanders. Riverside had a strong lead and took over the second and third set 15–25 and 22–25 after covering empty gaps on the court. Fortunately, the Beach was able to make a comeback after making a few defensive adjustments.
With the absence of captain Lexi Patterson, outside hitter Hailey Harward was called upon to take the mantle.
“I didn’t really say much to the team because I saw my teammates pick it up on their own,” said Harward.
Harward ended the night with a career-high 21 kills. In addition, the dynamic duo of offensive hitters, Harward and Megan Kruidhof shined as they gave their team confidence and finished strong in the fifth and final set with a score of 15–8. Kruidhof ended the night with 16 kills.
“I did not look at the stats but I know [Andjelkovic] did a great job coming into the game and getting the offense going in only her second college match appearance,” said head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer.
With an impressive night highlighted by 55 assists, Andjelkovic’s performance was a key performer in a successful comeback victory. However, the winning streak was not over.
The following day, Cal State Fullerton stood no chance as the Beach comfortably swept them 3–0, which ended 25–16, 25–14, 25–21. Andjelkovic distributed the ball among her teammates giving opportunities for all. While CSUF struggled with their second pass, the Beach had a dominating lead that provided them enough room for minor mistakes.
Kruidhof added 11 kills to her 2017 record and highlighted Andjelkovic’s importance to the team.
“[Andjelkovic] did a great job as a setter. It gave me the opportunity to get up and swing. She pushes us to reach her pace throughout the match and it’s what the team really needs in order to beat the block,” said Kruidhof.
Indeed, the presence of Andjelkovic has been the difference as the Beach continues its home winning streak to three.
“[Andjelkovic] has more confidence and was setting the offense really well as a continuation of yesterday. Our block is being more disciplined and they are definitely coming together giving easy access to our defense,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer.
Emma Kirst and Radi Marinova totaled seven kills each, while Harward also had six. The strong, well-rounded games from the Beach also allowed libero Rachel Nieto to protect her home turf and reach a career-high of 22 digs.
The Beach will be back for one last match as they host Cal State Northridge at the Walter Pyramid on Saturday Nov. 18 for Senior Night. As for the absence of Lexi Patterson, it is still unknown. The word is that she is recovering well and the team is hoping she can make an appearance on a very special night.